Saturday, October 6, 2012

John Derian.

‘‘I wish I had spray dust or spray dirt in a can,’’ he confesses. ‘‘I don’t want to lose the look of the place — I want that patina.’’

Slide show HERE.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Wow, this doesn't sound like a crime at all.

This sounds like a really good dinner.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Country kitchen before & after.

I've been itching to buy a place out of the city, and in my search (for both the property itself and inspiration), I have been discovering blogs I hadn't seen before. One is A Country Farmhouse, and she has really great before & after posts of various projects around her Oregon home. The kitchen is simple perfection, in my mind. 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

My rural/coastal obsession continues.

I am still shopping for a cabin on the water. FYI. 
And now I really want alpacas. 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Here's my new thing: I am trying to bring a little more humanity to my day. So, I bought a used copy of a wonderful book called Life is Meals. And every morning when I get into my office, while I fire up email (but before I get sucked into it) I read that day's passage.

Life is Meals is a very smart, well-read book of days by James and Kay Salter. Each day is about a page an a half dedicated to some food topic. Great historical moments in food. Small appreciations of, say, a peach. A story of strangers with a broken-down car invited into someone's home for dinner to wait it out. It's tender, but not sappy. And often useful.

Today's passage is about Julia Child. They write:

"During her career she wrote ten cookbooks, all of them noted for their clarity. She once said that her ideal house would have just two rooms, a bedroom and a kitchen, and when she was asked what her guilty pleasures were, replied, 'I don't have any guilt.'"

I like her style.

Friday, August 10, 2012

I love Jamie Meares.

And I just felt like shouting it from a mountaintop.

(Also, I have been drinking a little. BUT THAT DOESN'T MEAN I LOVE HER ANY LESS.)

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

That collar-like bib necklace situation that all the magazines are talking about:

J. Crew is very proud of its new fall shirt with a detachable collar-like bib necklace. But here's that idea for $20. Add to any shirt. Voila.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Kelie Grosso on One King's Lane

Kelie Grosso has a One King's Lane sale coming up at 6pm PT Tues. Set your alarms. 

On top of being genuinely kind, funny, and helpful, Kelie has great style. I was recently in her studio getting help with fabric for an ottoman that needs recovering, and I spied some good stuff (in fact, I snagged a really beautiful pillow on the spot), so I know you won't be disappointed. 

Friday, July 20, 2012

Away we go.

Off to Italy today for two weeks.  (You can follow me on Twitter for updates if you're into that sort of thing.) First Rome for a lot of lazy walking around, hanging out, beating the heat with gelato, and even seeing The Tindersticks in concert. Then to Villa Cicolina in Montepulciano for a few days to hang out by a pool and escape a crowded Rome.

Then to Praiano (with the one and only SGM) which is just a few km south of Positano.

That will be us in the big red circle.

In about a week, my butt will be planet firmly in one of these chairs and (finally) I'll be reading Beautiful Ruins. I'm looking forward to getting away from it all. 

Sunday, July 15, 2012


If you've been following along, you know I looked at a cabin on a little piece of waterfront property in Kingston, WA. Today I went back to look at another place. Technically, Kingston claims this house as its own, but as you drive to the house, it's clear it belongs to Eglon, a place I'd never heard of until today.

Eglon is an unincorporated part of Kitsap County. I passed farms, cows, and horses (the latter actually on the road) as I made my way to the house, which is perched on high-bank waterfront that seems slightly less likely to collapse into the salt waters of the Puget Sound than the last house I toured. The Eglon house is cute. Less of a fixer. And while it comes with 60 feet of beach, access hasn't been carved out yet. So that's a project.

But let's talk about Eglon. It's barely a town. It's got a church, the old school (above, which is now a community center) and a little beach with a boat ramp. No gas station. No stores. That's about it.

In the 20s, Eglon tried to become a port. Boats would bring people from across the water, but when tides were too high or low, people had to stay on and try again the next time their boat made the loop. Not super reliable, as ports go. So Eglon never really happened. From what I can tell, they're happy about that. The state occasionally tried to consolidate authority over small ports now and then. But Eglon, with no mayor, does have a port commission. Gene Duvall, port commissioner, has said, "The wish of the community is to keep the port basically as it is."

Here's the "port" (and Commissioner Duvall):

And here's the view from the house:

Eglon, while sleepy, is a contender.

On repeat:

Frank Ocean - Thinking About You
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Thursday, July 12, 2012


Look people, I haven't forgotten you. I had to spend time in Ohio (God punishes me), and I have also been trying to figure out the buying-that-cabin situation. Previous owners installed a $50k bulkhead along the shoreline to make sure they could build on it. The geotech report says the property is in a slide area, but I can't tell if that's an imminent-danger problem, or if that's like scaring someone away from buying in California because it's "on a fault line." Know what I mean? So, this will take some time. Which sucks because - in my best Varuca Salt voice - I want a beach house NOW. 

I would like to add that this was my horoscope last week, before I knew about the cabin:

TAURUS (April 20-May 20): There's a term for people who have the ardor
of a nymphomaniac in their efforts to gather useful information:
*infomaniac.* That's exactly what I think you should be in the coming
week. You need data and evidence, and you need them in abundance.
What you don't know would definitely hurt you, so make sure you find out
everything you need to know. Be as thorough as a spy, as relentless as a
muckraking journalist, and as curious as a child. P.S. See if you can set
aside as many of your strong opinions and emotional biases as possible.
Otherwise they might distort your quest for the raw truth. Your word of
power is *empirical.*

Friday, July 6, 2012

What is up with

1) Pinterest profile pictures with the husband in the shot
2) Couples who share an email address

I find both really creepy.

Monday, July 2, 2012

This is priceless.


Tom & Katie


Weekend house?

So, this place is for sale:
It's kind of a hot mess, but can't 30 gallons of white paint fix that?

The view: 

The fixer exterior:

My slice of beach:

The inside. (And you know I am keeping that luscious carpet...)

 White wash the place. Maybe don't Texas-Frenchy-fy it quite so much, but you get the idea what a crew of painters, some Benjamin Moore White Dove, a few Ikea sofas mixed with vintage pieces could do to the place:

Yes, no, maybe?

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Yes or no?

This painted floor. Yes or no?

ADVICE: I'm 25 and live with my parents. I feel ashamed. Should I?

Hi again. More advice. A few posts ago, I told people to send their problems and I would fix them. Overpromise? Maybe. But it's still fun. Here we go:

Anon wrote: 
I'm 25 and live with my parents. I feel ashamed. Should I?

Probably. I mean, there is probably something you should feel ashamed about, but I am not sure it's this. I am not sure you're asking the right question, though. Depending on why you are still living at home (or back home, as the case may be) better questions might be: 

When will I move out? Do I like living here? If not, how can I move out and when? etc etc. 

Why are you at home? Did you ever leave? How long do you plan to stay? Are you helping around the house? Paying for anything? 

Sometimes people have to move back home. I dropped out of college, having nearly lost my mind living in Eugene, Oregon, which is pretty much the end of the world. I moved back home for a few months and then moved out. Here's a story about that. Sometimes shame is a useful emotion if it will motivate you to change. Shame is an alarm. Listen to it, do something, then shut it off.

I don't think you need to feel shame unless you've moved back home and you are not making yourself useful. If you don't appreciate your parents' generosity, you aren't pulling your weight around the house, you aren't looking for work, and you're not making progress toward some goal (which includes moving out and being independent), then yeah, be ashamed.

I used to be more staunch about people not moving back home. I sort of still am. But then I think of places like Italy, where kids still frequently live with their parents until they get married. I think Lena Dunham still lives at home.

Why do you feel shame? I don't think it's useful. What do you want instead? I would focus on that rather than the shame. Shame and pity are the worst emotions. Do what you can to eliminate them. And unless you're a really awful person, you are too young for shame. Be useful and kind - to yourself and others - and you won't feel shame wherever you live. 

Image: Traditional Home

Is there a red, white, and blue + American flag filter in Google reader?

Because I am not looking forward to a week of style/fashion bloggers posting wardrobe and style mashups with a 4th of July theme.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

ADVICE: I got a bad review. Do I submit a rebuttal?

Hi everyone. We're back with more free advice. (You get what you pay for, kids!)

Anon writes:

I work my ass off. My boss just gave me a review that said I'm reluctant to take on some of my responsibilities and gave me no examples. She gossips about me with the director of our department, who bad mouths me to her direct reports. I have a rebuttal ready to submit with examples instances when I did the work she accused me of not taking on, including working from a courtesy computer in a hospital waiting room when my mother was intensive care. I can't quit, I need this job. Do I submit the rebuttal? 

I'm sorry about this. It's very difficult to work 40 - 65+ hours a week and feel unappreciated or undervalued. It blows.

Before we decide if you submit the rebuttal, let's assess a few things together:

1) How do you know that your boss is gossiping? You probably do. So I am not second-guessing you. But I will say this: I recently moved into an office next to my own boss's office. I love him. He's rad. BUT, I can *barely* hear him and often, I think, "What is going on in there? Who is that strange new voice? Who is in there talking to him. ARE WE ALL GETTING FIRED." Paranoia. I am so not getting fired. He was just having a goddamn meeting. It was just standard office paranoia. Let's make sure you rule out the possibility that your boss isn't really gossiping about you.

2) If this behavior is happening, then the next thing to figure out is the most important: If you present this "rebuttal" will she be open to it? You probably already know the answer to this. If the answer is anything from "probably not" to "no way" then you shouldn't. Why? Because it is likely that she is unwilling to receive this information from you and unwilling to change her point of view.

Next, when you say you work your ass off, are you confident you are doing the things that are important to your boss? If you are working your ass off on the wrong things, then it doesn't matter if you are working your ass off. If you are working you ass off from a hospital, it doesn't matter if you are working your ass off from a hospital if you are working on the wrong thing or delivering average work. Success at work happens in two dimensions: 
1) What you do (performance)
2) How you do it (leadership/ your work style)

You need to do the right things (things your boss values) in the right way (with a style your boss/company appreciates and values).

If you got a bad review, then you're not performing to her standard in either or both of those areas. This doesn't mean you're a bad employee or can't made good contributions. You just need her to articulate what she wants in those two dimensions. And then you need to execute against those expectations.

The best thing to do is set up a follow up meeting where you offer no rebuttal. In fact, everything that comes out of your mouth should be a question. You should ask questions to isolate what good performance would mean to her, in terms of what you are expected to do and how you are expected to do it. You should be very open to the feedback. Nod. Listen. Really listen. Don't explain anything. Just ask and listen. Don't think of yourself as her employee. Think of yourself as a consultant. She is your client. Listen to what she wants. If she's not good at telling you, you need to draw it out of her.

THEN, once you and she are both clear on what she expects, go do it for three months. Then ask for feedback on recent performance. If she tells you that your work has improved and you're meeting expectations, congratulations. No rebuttal is needed.

Let's look again at part of your comment:

My boss just gave me a review that said I'm reluctant to take on some of my responsibilities and gave me no examples.... Do I submit the rebuttal?

A rebuttal is just a fancy word for an argument. You can't argue at work. You have to perform. Only your performance will convince her.

(Unless she's crazy, immature, or very undeveloped as a manager with no demonstrated success helping people advance their careers. In that case, do everything I said above and just keep working until you find another job.)

How's my driving so far?

ADVICE: What to do with the wall across the bed?

Next up, M Foley asks:

I recently moved into a house with a small "master" bedroom, and I've been struggling with what to do with the wall directly across from the bed. There's only about 40'' between the end of the bed and the wall, and this space serves as the walkway between both sides of the room/bed. Floating shelves? A narrow console table? Fun art? (Changing the layout of the room is not an option because of drafty windows and our current furniture.) Any help would be fantastic!

OMG, easy! Install a flatscreen TV!! Is there anything better than watching Real Housewives in bed... while drinking. While eating dark chocolate. While also casually flipping through the latest copy of OK magazine? No. 

I say this as someone who currently doesn't have a TV in my room. But man I wish I did. (Instead, I have my computer across the room, and I tilt it toward the bed while I watch Hulu or Amazon or Netflix.) 

Upgrade all the bedding. Upgrade the lamps. The key is to make the TV-in-the-bedroom installation situation as luxurious as possible. You don't want to feel like an unemployed sweatpants-wearing Judge-Judy watching loser. You want to trick out the space so it feels like you're at the Ritz. Watching RHONY. 

I will add this: If you put art up, you need to go big, and you need something under it to anchor it. I don't like paintings or photography hung without something (console, bench, etc) placed underneath to anchor it. Otherwise, I think it looks too gallery-like and unfinished.* And if not art, what about wallpapering that wall with something crazy. Like THIS. (Which I think is amazing.)

I realize my "I love TV in the bedroom" position is controversial, so I invite other suggestions from the rest of you.

*Says the person with every unfinished decor project you can imagine.

Image from House Beautiful.

ADVICE: I have $1 million dollars. Can I stop working for a while?

(In my dreams, this is what 50 looks like.)

Hi everyone,

In THIS post, I told people I would solve their problems. What a bold claim! (And I wasn't even drinking when I wrote it.)

I am going to tackle Kristen's problem first because it was one of two that have nothing to do with decorating. (The other one was about a long ear hair. I said condition the shit out of it and let it grow.)

So here we go:

Kristen wrote: I'm 50 and my husband is 54. We are both without full time jobs, but have $1 million saved. I want to play and try new directions, but the conservative side of me says keep job hunting. Need "life" advice! Decorating will come next.

Let's solve this problem:

First, you need to answer some questions:
1) What kind of work did each of you do, and for how long?
2) Were you good at this kind of work?
3) Were you fired with cause?
4) How long have you been looking for work?
5) Why haven't you been hired yet? (Don't say "the economy.")

I am curious about your net worth because that's different than just what you have saved.
What if you have two mortgages on your house? What if you have $90k in consumer debt? etc etc etc.

Here's what you should do: 
If you have a net worth of $1M (mostly liquid... not including real estate), and if your answers to my laundry list above are positive (i.e., I wasn't fired; I do a kind of work that I can still get hired to do; I haven't found a job, because honestly, I am not trying that hard because I have my financial shit together and I want to take a break, etc.) then you can take a 6 month break and "play." At month three, you need to spend a few days taking potential hiring managers, friends, or other people in a promising professional network out to lunch, dinner, or coffee to keep your job-hunting/network lifelines open.

Don't spend too much money during your 6 month break with the exception of two weeks where you really go full tilt (maybe a trip to Paris, eat at great restaurants, stay at great hotel). For those two weeks, really live and have some luxury. Enjoy it.

Then get back to work. Lather, rinse, repeat every 5 years.

Let us know some answer to the questions above. (We'll be curious to hear more about your situation.) And let us know what kinds of things you want to do with your time off. What does "play" mean to you?

And congratulations on saving! Assuming there isn't a ton of debt on the other side of your balance sheet, you are an inspiration to all.

omg, this is so embarrassing.

Well, for those following along, yesterday I posted HERE inviting people to tell me their problems and I would solve them.

One of many entries was this:

Anonymous said...
Received a "no confidence" vote from my employer, i.e. was demoted this morning. Will still have to report for the peacocks. This is a real problem. Appreciate your advice Decorno!

Ann Curry

Oh Ann! Clearly I didn't respond in time because you woke up, went to work, and cried all over the fucking place! If I could get into my time machine, this would be my advice: 
Don't cry on your last day. It's a fucking morning show that no one watches. You got demoted and you get to keep a ton of money. Where's the problem?  There is no crying out in the open at work, especially when your work is being filmed.

Why would the network allow her this moment? No one gets to take a bawling victory lap at my office. You get cake, and you go. That's it. Professional, dignified, full of sugar, carbs, and vacation pay.

Enjoy your $20M "failure" and thanks for setting women back a few years with your self-pitying goodbye.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Free advice.

I will solve any problem. Post yours. Answers tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Am I the last to know about this?

It wouldn't surprise me.  The 8mm Vintage Camera app is basically Instagram video.

Although I was just recently mocked everyone's Instagram addition (right Harv?) I am liking the video. It's fun. (But all new things are fun.)

Do you use it? I am going to have a lot of fun with phony-vintage video during my upcoming Italy trip.

Your Real Estate Agent Hates You

This is a photo from a condo listing in Seattle. Congratulations, Pete Aranguren, your listing has (unsurprisingly) been on the market 786 days.

Will you be my personal shopper?

Ridiculous. The whole time I was driving home, I thought, "One pothole, and the mirror is going to shift me into neutral..."

No seriously. Can you guys recommend a new car for me? Presently, I have such a small car that I can't fit anything in it. For example, I have a 30 - 24" (ish) photo that I need to take to the framer, and I don't have enough trunk space to take it there. So it's gone unframed for a long while. And when I am buying benches and chairs and desks, etc., I have to arrange to have them delivered. So dumb. I am over it.

So - can you recommend a cute(ish) car... maybe a crossover or an SUV? If you love your car and you can actually haul more than 3 cans of paint and a small mirror in it, then tell me all about it! I need some help here. (Can't be a super new model. I am big on buying used. Must have existed circa 2006.)

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Before and after.

This isn't my house. But it should be. Scot Eckley makes dreams comes true.

Photo by Andrew Buchanan,


"In order of importance: 1.Self, 2. Marriage, 3. Child. Of course all are as important as each other, but neglecting the one before is a disservice to the one after."


Saturday, June 16, 2012

In the comments of THIS post, someone asked me:

Can you post a modern home that you like? When I think of modern, this is what I think of. I'd like to see a modern home with more soul, and I trust your judgment.

Sure. I'll add more as I find them, but here's my deal with modern:

It should be rational and lack adornment. Newer cheap "modern" houses that I see going up in Seattle in-fill areas have irrationally placed windows and the design seems to zig and zag without any cohesion. I like some vintage modern homes (I love Palm Springs, for example, and there are a ton of great old homes there, but some are still old shit boxes with weird design.) While buying a Tom Kundig house is out of reach for most of us, I like his designs because the homes look built to last. Concrete and steel. His house "The Brain" is not really a house. It's more like a retreat. But the point is that you look at it and it seems like that building has an intellectual life of its own. The building is an idea. If you're not going to wrap yourself in the comfort of a cozy bungalow... if you're going to go modern, then go modern. Build a house that contributes something to architecture, even in its simplicity.

But honestly, I have no idea what I am talking about. My deal with modern homes is like porn... I know the good shit when I see it (or something like that).

Post links to modern homes you love in comments. And if you can help define what makes a good modern home, let us know.